German Foreign Minister visits Russia today
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he is scheduled to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on August 11 for talks expected to cover the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.
Maas spoke with U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo on August 9, expressing his "dismay" over the threat of sanctions against a German port operator for its part in a pipeline project. The port is a key staging post for ships involved in the construction of the pipeline, RFE/RL reported.
Maas said he spoke with Pompeo about a letter sent last week by three Republican senators threatening sanctions against Faehrhafen Sassnitz GmbH, the operator of the Mukran Port, located in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s constituency on the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen.
The United States has long opposed Nord Stream 2, which has increasingly become a source of friction between Berlin and Washington. The United States argues the project will endanger European security by making Germany overly dependent on Russian gas.
The United States already has imposed sanctions aimed at companies working on the project, saying the pipeline will increase the European Union's dependence on Russia for natural gas.
German officials have condemned the U.S. sanctions, and some critics argue that behind U.S. opposition to the pipeline project is its own desire to sell its liquefied natural gas to Europe.
Senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Ron Johnson said their letter "serves as formal legal notice” that the port operator, its board members, corporate officers, shareholders, and employees risk “crushing legal and economic sanctions" unless they stop providing goods, services and support for the Nord Stream 2 project.
This includes providing storage and provisions for the Russian-flagged vessels Fortuna and Akademik Cherskiy, the letter said.